U.S. asked Ecuador not to give Snowden asylum

A television screen shows former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden during a news bulletin at a cafe at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport. Credit: Reuters
A television screen shows former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden during a news bulletin at a cafe at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.
Credit: Reuters

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa said on Saturday the United States had asked him not to grant asylum for former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden in a “cordial” telephone conversation he held with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

Correa said he vowed to respect Washington’s opinion in evaluating the request. The Andean nation says it cannot begin processing Snowden’s request unless he reaches Ecuador or one of its embassies.

Snowden, who is wanted by the United States for leaking details about U.S. communications surveillance programs, is believed to still be at the Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow after leaving Hong Kong.

Praising Biden’s good manners in contrast to “brats” in the U.S. Congress who had threatened to cut Ecuador’s trade benefits over the Snowden issue, Correa said during his weekly television broadcast: “He communicated a very courteous request from the United States that we reject the (asylum) request.”

Biden initiated the phone call, Correa said.

“When he (Snowden) arrives on Ecuadorean soil, if he arrives … of course, the first opinions we will seek are those of the United States,” Correa said.

A senior White House official traveling with President Barack Obama in Africa on Saturday confirmed the conversation had taken place.

The case has been a major embarrassment for the Obama administration, which is now facing withering criticism around the world for the espionage program known as Prism that Snowden revealed.

A German magazine on Saturday, citing secret documents, reported that the United States bugged European Union offices and gained access to EU internal computer networks, which will likely add to the furor over U.S. spying efforts.

Correa has for years been at loggerheads with Washington on issues ranging from the war on drugs to a long-running environmental dispute with U.S. oil giant Chevron.

A leftist economist who received a doctorate from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, Correa denied he was seeking to perturb relations and said he had “lived the happiest days of my life” in the United States.

But he said the United States has not heeded Ecuador’s request to extradite citizens sought by the law, including bankers he said have already been sentenced.

“There’s a clear double standard here. If the United States is pursuing someone, other countries have to hand them over,” Correa said. “But there are so many fugitives from our justice system (in the United States) … and they don’t return them.”

TRAVEL DOCUMENT CONFUSION

Correa said Ecuador’s London consulate issued Snowden an unauthorized safe-passage document, potentially as a result of communication with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is living in the London embassy after receiving asylum last year.

Assange said on Monday that Snowden had received refugee papers from the Ecuador government to secure him safe passage as he fled Hong Kong for Russia. Correa’s government had originally denied this.

A “safe-pass” document published by U.S. Spanish-language media network Univision which circulated widely online purported to offer Snowden safe passage for the purpose of political asylum. The United States has revoked his passport.

“The truth is that the consul (overstepped) his role and will face sanction,” Correa said during the broadcast.

The decision was “probably in communication with Julian Assange and out of desperation that Mr. Snowden was going to be captured, but this was without the authorization of the Ecuadorean government.”

Correa’s critics have in recent days accused him of letting Assange take charge of crucial foreign policy matters.

Assange, who is wanted in Sweden for questioning over sexual assault allegations, has not been able to leave the London embassy because Britain will not give him safe passage.

Snowden’s lack of a valid travel document appears to be one of the primary obstacles to his leaving the transit area of the Moscow international airport. Without a passport, he cannot board a commercial flight or move through airport immigration, according to diplomacy experts.

Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino declined on Thursday to comment on whether Ecuador would send a government plane to pick Snowden up. But Correa has indicated he does not have plans to provide Snowden with transport to an embassy.

Correa scoffed at reports that he himself had been aware that the document was issued or was involved in the decision.

“They think I’m so dumb that I ordered our consul in London to write a safe passage document for a U.S. citizen traveling from Hong Kong to Russia. That’s simply absurd,” he said.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Gunther from 'Friends' talks Central Perk

We spoke with Gunther (James Michael Tyler) at the preview for new pop-up Central Perk, based on the cafe in "Friends."

Local

Central Perk opens in SoHo

Central Perk, of "Friends" fame, is giving out free coffee in SoHo through Oct. 18.

National

Beer sponsor Anheuser-Busch reproaches NFL over domestic abuse

Anheuser-Busch chastised the NFL for its handling of domestic violence cases, making it the first major advertiser to put pressure on the league.

Local

Sen. Krueger dishes on prospect of legal marijuana…

New Yorkers may see the legalization of recreational marijuana use as early as 2015 if State Senator Liz Krueger (D) gets her way. The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act will…

Music

FREEMAN makes Freeman a free man from Ween

For nearly 30 years, Aaron Freeman was known endearingly to his listeners as Gene Ween. But with "FREEMAN," he makes it clear that he's gone somewhere else.

Television

'Outlander' recap: Season 1, Episode 6: 'The Garrison…

Whipping, punching, kicking and a marriage contract. "Outlander" is not for the faint of heart this week with "The Garrison Commander."

The Word

The Word: Hey girl, it's a girl for…

It's a girl for Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes, who reportedly welcomed a daughter last Friday, according to Us Weekly. The super-private couple managed to…

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, Sept. 16: 'New Girl,'…

Check out the season premiere of "New Girl," as Jess competes with Jessica Biel for a guy's attentions.

MLB

5 top contenders for NL Rookie of the…

The outing rekindled award talk for deGrom, who appears to hold the top spot for NL Rookie of the Year honors. Metro breaks down a few other contenders.

College

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

College football Top 25 poll (AP rankings)

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

Style

Rachel Zoe: New York Fashion Week Spring 15

Rachel Zoe goes 'Glam bohemia' for Spring.

Food

Where to find SweeTango apples

Introduced in 2009, SweeTango — a hybrid of Honeycrisp and Zestar — is a sweet apple with plenty of crunch.

Style

London Fashion Week recap

London Fashion week gets in on the action with politics, heritage and summertime living.

Food

Padma Lakshmi's recipe for green mango curry

Padma Lakshmi shares her recipe for green mango curry in UNICEF's new book, "UNICHEF."